Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
Why we think canals are better with Friends
Become a Friend of the Canal & River Trust today and you’ll open yourself up to new experiences and endless opportunities.
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
It seems that when I uploaded my entire CD collection onto iTunes I may have inadvertently appropriated a few of my parents’ CDs at the same time, including a more recent album by the Boss (that’s Bruce Springsteen for those of you who don’t already know). But, you may ask, why is this relevant?
Well…as I set my iPod to shuffle and skipped through the odd tune I had no interest in there, nestled between some unmemorable and by contrast somewhat insipid contemporary songs, was a gem of a folk song by Springsteen titled ‘Erie Canal’. I don’t know why but it struck a real chord with me, so much so that I kept it on repeat it all the way to work…until the words were ingrained in my memory and I was merrily singing along at the top of my voice. You really must listen to it if you get the chance.
I suppose it was the sentiment which captivated me. It was also very timely as I’d not long been out on my boat trip. Anyway, it got me thinking about why it is that you can visit any of our waterways and, almost without exception, be greeted warmly by a total stranger. Now, I’ve moved out of London and into a small village and I can tell you that the contrast is stark. I now know my neighbours well and many of the other villagers enough to say 'hello' as we pass but, in London, it was very different. Our neighbours were effective strangers; I wouldn’t be asked to feed their dog and in return it wouldn’t occur to me to approach them for a glass of Brandy when my toothache became intolerable.
However, what I experienced on my trip took this one step further. People we were never going to see again took the time to make eye contact, smile and then wish us a good morning as our lives momentarily collided (not literally, of course). It wasn’t forced, false or over the top – instead it felt like the acknowledgement of an unspoken understanding that we were sharing something special and we must not allow it to be destroyed by uncaring selfishness or indifference. In the simple act of this greeting we were playing our own small role in preserving the intangible atmosphere which was cherished mutually.
I know it’s already clear that I’m a sentimental old fool but there are also more practical reasons why this behaviour is so significant. It means that instances of ‘neighbour disputes’ or anti-social behaviour are rare. It means that mooring sites are communities not just a group of people living in close proximity. It means that people will actively choose to visit our waterways because their lives are touched in a way that they would not be during a trip to the park or a jog around their own neighbourhood.
It means that school children will continue to arrive because their teachers believe that they should be educated about their history while experiencing something so rare that we are risk of losing altogether in our everyday lives. It means that people will chose to support us because they want to be part of something they can preserve for future generations to understand and appreciate when modern day living means that all your friends are virtual and no other living soul will even acknowledge your existence.
I also know that there are many other, and probably more important, reasons why we have your support. However, for me, this is right up there with the best of them.
I'd like to urge you to continue to play your part, never become complacent, take a moment to greet someone you don’t know and see how good it makes you feel when they return your greeting along with a smile.
Sarina joined us in 2008 as our customer services co-ordinator. Among other things, she manages our national customer service team, complaints procedure and requests for information made to the Trust. She says that the most important thing to her is to be able to go home and feel as though she’s achieved something, however small that might be. Her job is hugely satisfying, widely varied, full of deadlines, immensely interesting, sometimes challenging and no day is ever the same, although some are surprisingly familiar!